Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, appeared at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust inquiry on Monday. Ms Bower was previously chief executive of NHS West Midlands, responsible for monitoring the troubled trust.

The CQC chief drew attention to the merger which gave birth to NHS West Midlands and how this did not include “a root and branch handover of every organisation”. That merger was overseen by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

HSJ understands more national figures will give evidence to the enquiry in the next few weeks and are spending significant time with their lawyers in preparation.

With such a fevered atmosphere surrounding the future of the NHS, the impact of the inquiry is hard to determine. But should it report at a moment of crisis, it may form a lethal cocktail which could seriously upset some personal and policy applecarts.